MathsNet: Research Student Directory

Name Howitt, Ryan
Group Scientific Computation
Room C18, Math Sci
Telephone +44 (0) 115 95 14961 [direct dial]
Thesis Title Stochastic modelling of repeat-mediated phase variation in campylobacter jejuni
Thesis Abstract The bacteria Campylobacter Jejuni is the number one cause of foodborne illness in the UK, which is present in two thirds of chicken meat sold at retailers and costs the UK economy an estimated £583 million per year. It leads to an infection in humans called Campylobacteriosis, a type of gastrointestinal disease which causes debilitating symptoms and also has links to Guillain-Barre syndrome. Particular genes of C. Jejuni have phase variable properties in which the protein expression of a gene experiences a reversible ON or OFF change due to high frequency mutations of it’s poly-G/poly-C tracts at a certain locus within the gene. This can be coded as a binary switch from 0-1 (OFF to ON) or 1-0 (ON to OFF), and when considering multiple genes this produces a wide range of genotypes that are amenable to mathematical treatment. We shall develop stochastic models to use as tools for mapping the frequency with which these phase variable switches occur in particular environments and the factors driving these changes, which includes searching for potential selection in certain combinations of genotypes. This is conducted through biostatistical analysis of in vitro data sets and in vivo datasets taken from young broiler chickens. The work is a joint collaboration between the School of Mathematical Sciences and School of Veterinary Medicine at University of Nottingham and Department of Genetics (Dr Chris Bayliss’ lab) at University of Leicester.
School contact information School of Mathematical Sciences
University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD
Tel: +44 (0) 115 951 4949
Fax: +44 (0) 115 951 4951